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There is such a force for good in Ceres, California
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I don't know how it got here so fast but Thanksgiving is next week.

It's a time to take an account of good things, reflect on the blessings we enjoy and thank the Almighty for his provision.

Also time for me to take a break from the negativity I may have been emitted in recent columns.

Being positive is no problem as I focus on the positive and good people in the community of Ceres. This column idea just snowballed after I started thinking about one after the other people in the community who makes such a tremendous difference. We could focus on all the negatives but wow, there are there some amazing positives in Ceres.

Just look around with me. Permit me to take some time to single out some who have impressed nothing but good thoughts in me.

People like Helen Marchy and others who for years has donated her time for feeding the homeless through her church at St. Jude's Catholic Church.

A very sweet woman in Bettye Welsh who for decades has been such a force of hometown good nature and friendliness and let's not forget a promoter of square dancing in Ceres.

I think of a slew of men who have annually played Santa Claus at Smyrna Park to bring joy to thousands of children. There's Ken Lane and Eric Ingwerson and the late Del Davis; and, of course, their wives playing Mrs. Claus. There was no bigger heart in Shirley Davis, who inspired the creation of the Let Freedom Ring tree grove in Smyrna Park before her death to cancer.

Becki Nicholes has been such an integral part of the community, encouraging others, serving the community, tirelessly taking photographs of events for social media, and uplifting spirits of the disheartened. Let's not forget her positive influence on the children she cares for at her day care.

People like Lee and Sheila Brent who strongly believes in being a force for good in their community and who are supportive in their attendance at community functions and council meetings.

Len Shepherd has a passion to protect those who protect Ceres. He always stands up at council meetings and offers his kudos and support to the Ceres Fire Department. And always by his side supporting him is very quiet, unassuming wife Amy.

Jim Bergamaschi, who was keyed into the community as a barber and now a member of the Ceres Garden Club for many years, is always handy with a smile and a handshake that encourages me every time I see him. His wife Colleen and Jim are frequently in the servant mode.

Jim Bear is always perpetually supportive of the schools with scholarships out of his own pocket.

There are the war heroes. Men like Tom Dimperio who got shot up for his country during World War II and today bears a shorter arm because of bone loss due to a wartime bullet. People like Jack Marshall who fought the Japanese in the South Pacific as a U.S. Marine. Other patriots come to mind like Steve Breckenridge who took some injuries to his mouth during training for the California State Military Reserves. There are other veterans who not only defended their country but continue to serve their community: Pasquale "Pat" Sobotka, the chaplain of the VFW, or VFW Commander Jim Covernick. There's Walt Butler, Steve Whitney the commander of the American Legion post 491and Gary Lee Hall and a host of many others.

Mary Fenton has given 47 years of her life to the city of Ceres and Public Safety Department. Talk about devotion!

Truman Showen and his wife Marilyn sent me cards during one of the darkest times of my life. I shall never forget how Truman shared about the time when he was fire chief and went above and beyond the call of duty when he took in the children of a woman who attempted suicide. He brought them home where his wife bathed them and fed them before taking them to Child Protective Services.

I think of the many pastors who have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of many in Ceres. People like kind-hearted Adrian Condit who showed up to do a funeral service for a man and wept when nobody showed up to mourn his loss.

Del Ambris never seems to tire of helping community put on events through donation and discount through Cost Less Foods.

Renee Ledbetter gives of her time to promote Ceres and events to draw others in town. Her enthusiasm and ideas have been a breath of fresh air in rooms previously stagnated by apathy. She came up with the Shop Local campaign and the annual Smoke on the River event.

There are countless people who care and volunteer their time not expecting anything but making their community a better place. Millie Fisher and Joel Richards and Billy Bob Muirhead come to mind as they have volunteered for police and fire personnel.

I also reflect on those who daily put their lives on the line for public safety. I think of people like Police Sgt. Joe Wren who has had the difficult task of letting a place canine attack someone who should've known better and face the abuse for just doing his job. He now is no longer a canine officer but is in charge of the unenviable task of cleaning up property eyesores and blight that bring the community down.

Unsung heroes abound. Michelle Norleen of Boots & Saddles offer therapy horse riding for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other military related issues at the Diamond Bar Arena in rural Ceres. Zenia Zuniga started the Pajama Program to collect and distribute PJs to children who are in need, whether a child in the foster care system, in a shelter or awaiting adoption. Colleen Garcia of Ceres runs the Children's Crisis Center, protecting children in tense situations.

Brandi Meyer has faithfully devoted many years as a Boys Scout leader in Ceres.

If you want friendliness and a big heart then Sally Lara of Alfonso's Mexican Bar and Grill is a good place to get a helping. She routinely opens up a restaurant to charitable causes.

There are others in the community who quietly live out their faith, people like Patty Robinson who has told me how she prays for me and others in the community.

Community activist Lisa Mantarro Moore spends hours leading a group of people who want to see the Clinton Whitmore Mansion become a vibrant part of the community like it did back sixty to 70 years ago.

Mildred Lucas has slowed down but is one of those sweet souls who encourage others, shares produce from her property and is best known for documenting Ceres past.

There's a rich field of teachers who day in and day out pour their lives into molding young people in being their best. Jan-Marie Purdy is representative of them.

Countless members of the Ceres Lions Club have worked tirelessly to put on fundraisers. Rocky Fisher, who received the Ceres Citizen of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in February, comes to mind as does Stan Sinclear and Bud Runyan and Richard McKay.

The ladies of the Soroptimist International of Ceres continue to enrich the lives of junior high school girls with their outreach program. Arlene Vilas is one of the devoted members who give to this cause and have a heart for young women.

Then there's Shane Parson who gives back to the community out of gratefulness for the prosperity and health he now enjoys.

Evelyn Edwards, Alita Algeo, Marge Bogard, Carmen Ingalls, Mary Faulk, Mickey D'Askquith, Berniece Hickman and Wanda Lohman come to mind for their charity work with the Ceres Woman's Club.

On a recent trip to Vallejo I was driving around and tuned into radio station KCBC and heard Ceres' own Herb Henry playing gospel music songs and inviting others to visit his Richland Faith Assembly of God Church in Ceres to hear the Melody Boys. That's truly an ambassador of good will for all of Northern California.

There's really too many to mention. I am sure I missed many, many more who daily do their good deeds.

Ceres is small town America. Ceres really is a great community.

Remember the words of Martin Luther King who said: "Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve."
Everyone can be a friend too.

How do you feel? Let Jeff know by emailing him at